So last time I mentioned newborn psychology. It truly is an amazing science, and you may be skeptical about the things I’m going to tell you I learned, but trust me, what’s suggested works, what they found out through research is true as far as I have experienced with my daughter. During my pregnancy I’ve been doing a lot of reading and watching documentaries about everything concerning pregnancy and infants, and I’m so glad that I did. While some might suggest to not overdo it, to not read too much or watch too much, because there is a lot of bullshit (excuse my language) out there, I would strongly suggest against that. You can never educate yourself enough, as long as you keep an open mind, read several different views on a topic and ultimately form your own opinion. I sure am glad I did, because it helped me a lot in dealing with the challenges of early motherhood. Here is why and how:
At our two week well visit at the pediatrician the doctor told us that we may soon experience something called colic (also known as purple crying). He told us that it’s just a time of day when babies are very fussy, and there’s simply nothing you could do. It’s just how it is. He told us, you are not bad parents if you put the crying baby in her crib, close the door, and watch TV for 20 min. (I can’t bring myself to do that!) He said sometimes running the vacuum cleaner will work, or a ride in the car. Now why would he say that? Bear with me.
Yes, we saw a lot of colic. We still do a little bit. But our baby didn’t have it just one time of the day for 20 min. Our baby was fussy most of the day, hardly consolable. We got through that though, without having to let Savina cry her lungs out. Here’s how we were able to consol our baby girl:
Our midwife had lent us a DVD while I was pregnant, called “The Happiest Baby on the Block.” I’m so thankful she did. It has been a real life saver. I would have never figured this out on my own. Dr. Karp, who discovered these techniques, suggests that babies are born three months too early. They are just not quite ready for the world outside. So what do we do to help our babies? We help them feel as if they were still in the womb. Where it is cozy and safe.
The two major techniques to imitate the womb that worked for our baby were the sound and the “confinement.” Babies are very tightly snug in the womb. They don’t have a lot of room to move around. Also, when babies are born, they perceive the world, including their own body, as a whole. One whole universe. They are not aware that they have arms and legs that they can manipulate. As they start figuring that out around 5-6 weeks, they get very scared. I notice that when I take my baby off the breast, and she wakes up (she usually dozes off at the breast), her whole body trembles. She startles. Her arms flail in the air as if she just realized that they are attached to her. As if she had lost hold.
So to imitate the confinement of the womb, we swaddle our babies. They feel safe when swaddled. It’s warm and tight. They can’t move their arms. Again, that makes them feel safe. It’s not torture, it’s relief for them. In the first few weeks, when we swaddled our daughter, she would stop crying right away as if we had switched a button. Now, as she slowly understands her body, the swaddle only consols her 50% of the time anymore.
The other imitation that worked great for us is the sound. What does it sound like in the womb? First of all, Mommy’s heartbeat. Secondly, it’s extremely noisy in there, really loud. Many parents shush their babies, but often they don’t realize that they have to shush really loud for baby to feel safe, for baby to feel like she’s back in the womb. Apart from shushing right in their ear (yes, r i g h t i n t h e i r e a r), you can run an audio file of white noise, or the vaccum cleaner for that matter. I would turn on the vaccum, when she still cried in the swaddle, but she would only quiet down if I held her right next to the vaccum. Yep, that’s really loud. They love it, believe me. We have now found an audio file that has white noise, including a heartbeat. It works like a charm most of the time. When Savina was very little, like 4 or 5 days old, I’d sometimes put her in the snuggle nest (the little cosleeper that’s in our bed) and turn on the heartbeat function on it. When it ran out (it’s on a timer) she’d stir and get a little cranky, but as soon as I turned it back on, she mellowed out.
Here is another example of how much babies yearn for the safety they know: the safety of the womb. Savina had a really bad night when she started getting a cold last Sunday. She just couldn’t sleep at all. I finally decided to take a nice warm bath with her in the middle of the night. I’d sit with her in the tub, hold her close to me and let very warm water run in. She quieted down. When there was enough water, I shut it off, and then Savina began to cry again. I turned it back on and she quieted down. Of course we only have so much warm water, so eventually I got out of the tub, sat down next to it, held Savina close to me, and let the water run. She’d still cry. Conclusion: The sound of running water was not enough. She wanted to be right back inside my womb because she felt scared and miserable. Warm water (amniotic fluid) and the sound of running water (blood and other fluids gushing around inside me) together made her feel right back where she knows she’d be safe.
I could go on and on about the development of babies, and how to help them feel safe, as there is a lot more to this and there are other ways, but I think you’re getting the picture. Once again: newborn psychology is quite interesting. I’m fascinated by it, and I’m sooooo very glad I did read so much about it. I’m able to give my baby a feeling of safety and comfort. I’m able to calm my scared, fussy baby down. Only because I read and educated myself.
There is one more thing I want to say about newborn psychology. I’ve been told in person many times, and I’ve been reading it wherever I look: babies that age c a n n o t b e s p o i l e d. It’s a fact, it’s how it is, believe it or not. Right now, what the baby wants and what the baby needs just happen to be the same thing. I could never let her cry because you may think she’s “manipulating” me because she “knows” just what to do to get my attention. She does not. She doesn’t even know what manipulation is. She doesn’t know what “getting attention” means. She’s not there yet in her development. Heck, she’s only just learning that her body is her own and that she can willfully move her limbs! She’s just starting to figure out that sound is a different sense than touch. She’s still got most of her survival reflexes (like rooting and closing her hand around an object) that she will only lose when she learns how to control her body.
So back to the challenges. Yes, our baby having a lot of colic was a challenge, is a challenge, but with the help of all I’ve learned it’s managable, draining but managable. I also have the fortune of being able to distinguish my baby’s cries. That helps a lot. I can usually tell if she cries because she’s in pain, or if she cries because she’s hungry.
Savina also had light reflux, but after giving her Zantac she’s a lot better in that regard. She’s extremely gassy as well, for which we picked up gripe water–it really helps!
What I love about my little girl:
I love it when she tries to sneeze and it won’t come out, she makes the cutest cooing sound, like a disappointed sigh–it’s just too adorable. I love her smile, obviously. I love it when she’s asleep and begins to laugh voicelessly. I love that pout she does just before she starts bawling. I’m trying to catch it on camera, but she just never does it long enough haha. I loved her super-chubby cheeks when they were still super-chubby. I still love them, but they’re not as chubby anymore. I missssss those chubby cheeks. I love it when nothing can consol her and I put her to the breast, she immediately quiets down. I love how she stretches when I take her to burp after she’d fallen asleep on the breast. She’ll wake up and stretch just like a lady. It’s so cute! I’m trying to catch that on camera too, just haven’t gotten around to that one yet. I love her big, beautiful eyes, and I love her super-soft hair. I love feeling her tiny body against mine. I love all the sweet faces she makes when she sleeps. I love it when she stares at me in wonder and purses her lips. I love that sucking motion she continues to make for a few seconds when she’s asleep and I take her off the breast. I love it when she’s milk-drunk. I love how she “rolls” her lower lip when I wipe off excess milk after taking her off the breast. I love it when she responds with a smile to something I say to her. I love so many more things about my baby girl. But most of all, I love that she’s here and that she’s ours. We made a perfect baby. ❤
Thanks for reading!